One of Oregon's nine Native American tribes reacted angrily to the vandalism committed earlier this week at the Oregon Historical Society during a gathering billed as the "Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage."
The Umatilla tribe, which includes about 3,100 members and a 173,000-acre reservation near Pendleton, was one of the original tribes recognized in the Oregon Territory after white settlers seized native lands. The Umatilla, the Cayuse and the Nez Perce tribes signed the Treaty of 1855, creating what are today reservations for those tribes and transferring 6.4 million acres to the United States.
Although that treaty represented an enormous seizure of tribal resources, the Umatilla's governing body did not appreciate the property destruction done in the name of Indigenous people Sunday night.
"On behalf of the board of trustees of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR), I wish to express our revulsion at the vandalism, arson, and violent acts of destruction that took place on Sunday night in Portland and specifically at the Oregon Historical Society," N. Kathryn Brigham, chair of the Umatilla tribe's board of trustees, wrote to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler on Oct. 14.
"The Oregon Historical Society (OHS) presents some of the best efforts to recognize the history of Indigenous people and our state and so for OHS and city property to be treated so disrespectfully, and ostensibly in support of the rights of Indigenous peoples, is not only harmful to the property but also detracts from the ability to communicate messages about the importance and centrality of the history of Native peoples in Oregon."
As WW reported earlier this week, two men have been charged with crimes related to the Sunday night incidents.
"Everyone has a duty to denounce vandalism and violence and to seek more constructive paths toward the resolution of disputes and to educate themselves in order to gain a better understanding of our shared history from the perspective of the CTUIR and all of the Native peoples of Oregon," Brigham continued. "We look forward to future opportunities to work together to build a common understanding of our shared history and create a more peaceful and just future."